Brentwood is notable in Williamson County for having far less apartments, condos and other forms of high density housing than its neighbors.
City Commissioner Mark Gorman, who was first elected to the Brentwood City Commission in 2013, wants to continue that by maintaining what he called "balanced and responsible growth."
Originally from Danville, Ill., Gorman moved to Brentwood shortly after receiving a degree in finance from Eastern Illinois University in 1990. Gorman was attracted to the area by his father, who had helped launch the General Motors Saturn Plant back in the late 1980s.
Gorman spent some time in investment banking in Illinois, but found his passion later in the health care industry by acquiring 30 years of hospital leadership experience. While Gorman still works part time in health care consulting, he now considers himself retired and devotes much of his time to matters related to the Brentwood City Commission.
Gorman has served one term as vice mayor and had previously been appointed to serve on the city's Planning Commission.
"Balanced and responsible growth"
When asked what was his primary motive was for running for re-election, Gorman said that it was "to continue balanced and responsible growth," adding that the city's current allowed housing density "matters a lot."
"One of the biggest issues - and it will always be an issue - is the push for increased density of zoning, and the reason is [this]: as Brentwood gets closer to buildout, land becomes more scarce [and] the value goes up," Gorman said.
"The more you can increase the density on the existing land left, the higher the return. Brentwood's a very special place; I've traveled a lot, and there aren't other places like Brentwood. Brentwood has a lot of greenspace, taxes are low, people are very friendly, very family orientated and it's just a very special suburb."
Going back to the theme of responsible growth, Gorman noted that he was the lone member of the city's Planning Commission to vote against the Tapestry project back in 2011, the Tapestry being one of Brentwood's few examples of high density housing.
Gorman also pointed to another high-density project that he fought to scale down: Hill Center Brentwood, a multi-use development with office, retail and restaurant space that sits on the southwest corner of Franklin Road and Old Hickory Boulevard.
"One of the projects that we were able to scale back is Hill Center Brentwood; to put in perspective, there's about eight acres on the corner of Maryland Way and Franklin Road," Gorman said.
"The Nashville Convention Center is on about the same acreage - about eight acres - [and] there's 1.2 million square feet. What was originally proposed on the corner of Maryland Way and Franklin Road was 950,000 square feet that included 500 apartments."
"We wound up with something that is still a lot, but very much more balanced and responsible. What we have at full buildout of the Hill Center will be 650,000 square feet, no apartments."
The city's infrastructure and public safety were other issues Gorman said would be a focus of his if re-elected.
"[Another focus is] continuing to make sure that we don't overrun our infrastructure, and then even though we don't control the school system, we're stakeholders in the school system and so we have to maintain that balance and make sure that we don't overrun that infrastructure," Gorman said.
"Then public safety's the next one: as Nashville continues to have unbridled growth and their crime continues to grow out of control, you have a lot of infiltration. So we have to be very vigilant and continue to employ technology as well as good law enforcement to keep our residents safe. If public safety's not where it needs to be, the rest just doesn't matter. People need to feel safe and they need to be safe."
Keeping on the topic of infrastructure, Gorman also shared what infrastructure projects he felt were crucial for the city to stay on top of, something he vowed to be a focus if re-elected.
"Right now Concord Road is a major thoroughfare during rush hour in the mornings and the evenings; we have just kicked off the engineering and are getting ready to have construction start in the next year [on] the McEwen extension," Gorman said.
"Franklin is redoing McEwen from the interstate to Wilson Pike, and then we will fund McEwen from Wilson Pike to our city limits and it'll tie into some of the county roads - it will take a lot burden off of Concord Road. That is a substantial project, it'll take about two, two-and-a-half years to complete."
Parks and trails were another focus mentioned by Gorman, who said further expanding the city's park system would also be a focus during the next few years.
"We will continue to develop our park system, we have recently acquired Windy Hill Park - that's just grass now, [but] we will master plan and build that out in the coming years... additionally, there's the back part of Smith Park that has not been developed and so we will continue with that plan to develop that park system," Gorman said.
"One of the things that we'll continue to do as well is develop the trails system, so we're going to do that through tax dollars, through city-funded dollars, but we're also going to do it as new developments come online to where we're able to tie that into the park system."
Gorman also stood against granting tax incentives to companies who'd like to move to Brentwood, arguing that in doing so, not only are you increasing density, but your "shortchanging your schools" through forfeiting tax dollars. Regarding taxes, Gorman said he did not foresee raising taxes for residents at any time in the near future.
Ultimately, the theme of balanced and responsible growth carried throughout Gorman's pitch to voters, and came once again when the Home Page asked Gorman why he deserved residents' votes: "Continued balance and responsible growth - you can count on me."
Gorman is one of four candidates vying for three seats on the City Commission; incumbents Rhea Little and Regina Smithson, as well as political newcomer Gina Gunn. The three candidates who receive the most votes will go on to become acting city commissioners.
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